Posts Tagged United States Department of Commerce

Sales of new U.S. homes climb in July – MarketWatch


By Jeffry Bartash

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Sales of new single-family homes in the U.S. climbed to an annual rate of 372,000 in July from 359,000 in June, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Sales in June revised up from an original reading of 350,000. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast new home sales to rise to a seasonally adjusted 365,000 last month. The biggest increase took place in the Northeast, where sales rose nearly 77% after falling 55% in June. Sales also rose 7.7% in the Midwest. In the South, sales declined by 1.6% and purchases fell 0.9% in the West. New home sales are 25.3% higher compared to one year ago. The median price of new homes, meanwhile, dropped 2.1% to $224,200 last month from $229,100 in June. And the supply of new homes available for purchase on the U.S. market fell to 4.6 months at the current sales pace from 4.8 months in the prior month. The combination of faster sales and a slow rate of construction resulted in the number of new homes on sale falling to a record low of 142,000 in July.


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U.S. housing starts rise 6.9% in June – MarketWatch


By Jeffry Bartash

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Construction on new U.S. homes in June rose 6.9% to an annual rate of 760,000, the highest level since October 2008, but building permits fell slightly, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Housing starts in May were revised up to 711,000 from an original reading of 708,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to rise in June to an annual rate of 750,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Permits for new construction, viewed as a gauge of future demand, edged 3.7% lower to an annual rate of 755,000 from 784,000 in May. Permits for single-family homes, which account for three-quarters of the housing market, rose a scant 0.6% to an annual rate of 493,000 last month. More than half of the increase in housing starts in June involved buildings with five or more units.


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Sale of new U.S. homes rise to 2-year high in May – Marketwatch

By Jeffry Bartash

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Sales of new single-family homes rose to an annual rate of 369,000 in May to mark the highest level in more than two years, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday. Sales for April were unchanged at 343,000, seasonally adjusted. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected new-home sales to rise to annual rate of 348,000 in May. The median sales price fell 0.6% to $234,500 last month. Lower prices, low interest rates and warmer weather likely gave a small boost to sales. The supply of new homes on the market, at current sales pace, fell to 4.7 months from 5.0 in April. Even with the latest increase, however, sales of new homes are far below the normal level and reflect an industry still trying to dig out of its worst slump in modern times.

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November housing starts up 9.3% to 685,000 annual rate – Marketwatch

By Ruth Mantell

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — New construction of U.S. houses rose 9.3% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 – the highest annual rate since April 2010 — with multi-family activity leading growth, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday. Starts for multi-family residences rose 32.2% in November to a rate of 230,000, the highest level since September 2008. Meanwhile, starts of new single-family homes rose 2.3% to an annual rate of 447,000. Starts in October were revised down to 627,000 from a prior estimate of 628,000. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected an annual rate of 635,000 for starts in November. Building permits, a leading indicator of housing construction, rose 5.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 681,000, the highest annual rate since March 2010.

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U.S. housing starts jump 15%, hit 17-month high – Marketwatch

Apartments lead September gain; single-family starts rise 1.7%

By Steve Goldstein,

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Housing starts surged 15% in
September to the highest level in 17 months, according to government data
released Wednesday, as increased demand for rental stock as well as rebuilding
after Hurricane Irene contributed to the upturn.

The Commerce Department said starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate
of 658,000, which also is 10.2% above the September 2010 reading and the best
level since April 2010 — the month the homebuyer tax credit expired. The figures
were well ahead of the 590,000 forecast in a MarketWatch-compiled economist

The rise was led by a 53% surge in starts of buildings with five or more
units to 227,000, the best reading in three years; single-family starts rose a
more modest 1.7% to 425,000, which is only a two-month high.

Rental demand is booming, as buyers struggle to get the credit needed to
purchase homes even with mortgage rates near record lows and as some show a
reluctance to re-enter the housing market over fears of declining prices.

“The big gain in multfamily is consistent with what we have seen in
construction spending and is leading the slow recovery in the construction
industry,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist of real estate web site Trulia.
“That’s in response to rising rents that show the relative tightness of the
rental market.”

The starts data can be highly volatile, with September’s data having a margin
of error of plus or minus 13.7%.

The less-volatile building permits figures declined 5% to 594,000, and
single-family permits eased 0.2%.

August’s reading on housing starts was revised modestly higher, to 572,000
from 571,000, and August’s reading on permits was revised higher to 625,000 from
an initial reading of 620,000.

In any case, the data still show that housing has a long way to go to recover
— at the peak, there were 2.07 million units started in 2005.

The glut of foreclosed and soon-to-be-foreclosed homes, the number of
underwater mortgage owners, high unemployment and tough credit standards all
have contributed to weakness in housing.

But data of late have shown signs of stabilization.

On Tuesday, home-building stocks rallied on the release of builders confidence data for
October that recovered to the highest level — a still-bleak 18 on a scale of
1-to-100 — since May 2010.

Builders extended gains Wednesday, with PulteGroup and D.R. Horton stronger in early action.

As with the home-builders sentiment data, the figures on housing starts were
led by activity in the West, where starts gained 18.1% to hit a three-year high.
In the South, the largest market for new homes, starts rose 15.7% to register
the best reading since April 2010.

However, both those markets were led by apartments; single-family starts
dropped 9.4% in the South and were flat in the West.

Trulia’s Kolko said what appears to be happening is that the hardest-hit
areas like California, Florida and Nevada are seeing shifts in demand to
apartments, because the vacant houses can’t be rented out.

“It requires management to have and maintain rental units, and a lot of
vacant stock is not where renters tend to live,” he said.

Separately, the Labor Department said consumer prices rose 0.3% in September.

// Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch’s Washington
bureau chief.

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